The Death of Feminine Values?

I am struggling with the turns feminism has taken. I thought it was about freeing women to be themselves, not expecting them all to want and be good at the same things, and that women who needed to work or chose to work outside the home would be rewarded equally with men. And my hopes for it were that it would bring traditional feminine values into the places of power traditionally held by men. I realize that not all women are nurturing, any more than all men are competitive. So when I talk about traditional feminine or masculine values, I am not limiting the yin and yang of them exclusively to either gender. Of course, like any movement or theory, we manage somehow to always take it to illogical extremes. Our economy has adjusted to two salaries and now, unless we marry and both partners work or one partner makes a whole lot of money, women need to work. So, the ones that want to be hands on with raising their children and love to cook and decorate and create and maintain beauty and welcome for others in their home environments are more and more forced into working outside the home, often in very limiting and non-creative jobs. And many women, who are not married, live close to poverty.
I went to an exhibit at the Frist museum recently on the history of the Samurai. Samurai were the greatly respected and highly honored soldiers of Japan. During a long peaceful time in Japan’s history, there were women Samurai. This period led to better treatment for women. Though better is a relative thing. Still, it surprised me, since this was a long time ago and  it was a position of honor traditionally only held by men.
In Sweden, Dads are now being given turns with wives at new parent time off from work. And two American women have qualified as Army Rangers. The whole point these days is to not consider anything as identified appropriate for only one gender.                                       This would work out, if nurturing professions and skills were rewarded the same as combative ones. Though the rank and file of the military don’t get paid extravagant salaries, as long as they are on active duty they live in a completely socialistic society. Retired military used to have pretty much the same benefits, but with constant wars the cost of supporting the military and war has gone up with corresponding cuts in veteran benefits and services. If you aren’t actively killing enemies, you aren’t important any more. Teachers are underpaid.  They are not provided free medical care, reasonable housing, cheap retail prices, inexpensive or free social activities, free churches and religious education, and special schools for their children. And frankly these days a lot of schools in the civilian arena are the equivalent of war zones.                                                           I think what I am trying to say is that while I want women and men to be equal, I also want traditional feminine values such as nurture and inclusiveness, to be considered equally important and rewarded as such.                                                                                                             Sexual mores are obviously now emphasizing the pleasure of sex as more important than its role in creating, deepening, and strengthening relationships. When the immediate gratification through pleasure becomes the accepted goal in life, relationships become disposable. Human relationships are simply not constantly pleasurable. They aren’t even meant to be. Pleasure for pleasure’s sake only, with no balancing maturing in relationships, leads to a population of aging irresponsible children.                                               Okay, I haven’t thought all of this through, so I need to stop and reflect on it. It’s hard to free myself from my generation’s programming enough to discern what is progress and what is throwing the baby out with the bath water. I tend to think traditional feminine values (not roles) are more evolved than masculine ones, so I don’t want to have those values disappear.  Obviously, I am prejudiced. But, before I take a break, I have one funny story that sort of illustrates some of the challenges.

Some years ago I had an army staff sergeant friend who had fought in Korea and Vietnam. Close to the end of his twenty years, he was given a cushy staff assignment in Boston near his wife’s hometown. After several staff meetings with his female officers all crying at times in each meeting, he volunteered to go to Korea, which was not a cushy assignment. I could understand a reasonably kind, but combat seasoned soldier, being uncomfortable with weeping officers, but I also wondered if the officers on all sides of conflicts cried instead of becoming aggressive, maybe it would cut down on the wars. After all, Jesus wept, why shouldn’t we.


About Eileen

Mother of five, grandmother of nine, great-grandmother of five. 1955 -1959 Rice University in Houston, TX. Taught primary grades; Was Associate Post Director of Religious Education at Ft. Campbell, KY; Consultant on the Myers/Briggs Type Indicator, Was married for 60 years to an Architect in Middle Tennessee.

Posted on December 31, 2016, in B4Peace, conflict resolution differences, Creativity, Education, evolving, historical perspective, marriage, relationships, Sex, spiritual growth, violence and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. No, samurai women did not lead to better conditions, Eileen. There are only two seasons in which a girl is recognized in Japan for ritual. Boys get like five or nine seasons… like when they the fly fish kites and have tea ceremonies for the boys. anyhow, One is her wedding day. But the girls are valued as servants.
    You are asking for servitude in girls, Eileen. That’s not a feminine value. That’a a man made construction. And a conditioned response. Sure we are nurturing, but WHAT are you nurturing? Boys who do not value women? You entitle them to them wives and don’t value the wives. You blame the wives for not being the “one” and you still expect them to serve?
    What the fuck?


    • I don’t blame wives for anything. The samurai women did get better conditions than they had. I didn’t say they were treated as equals, I was just surprised that there were women samurai. You are not able to hear me at all. I am not asking for servitude in girls. You totally miss my point about values of nurture and inclusion which have been traditional feminine values. I happen to think these need to be equally valued by the culture. Dog eat dog, settle conflict by violence, cut throat competition, private club elitism have been the masculine norm. That isn’t going to change, if we just buy into it also. Tabby, I am very offended by how you attack me for saying things I am not saying and don’t seem to even try to hear me. Obviously, we are not able to communicate on these issues without offending one another. I can’t make any sense out of some of the things you are saying. Maybe it’s partly the way they are said. So, you were right, we need to just agree to disagree. I have begun trying to sort out my own feelings and attitudes to try to see how much freedom I have from my own cultural programming. My way of doing that is writing and then assessing the implications that I may have missed. It’s called discussion. This doesn’t feel like discussion. I feel like I’m being judged and attacked. I don’t need that anymore than you do right now. I want to continue exploring my thoughts about these issues in my posts to see if they hold up when examined and if I think they do, then I want to try to find ways to articulate them better. So, I think it will work best for both of us if you do what you said you were going to do, not follow my blog.


  2. I want to respond to your thoughts, but find that the screen on my phone is too restrictive. I hope to get back to here in my computer sometime in the near future. I will say that I don’t see how anyone could read into what you have written that you are “asking for servitude.” Keep thinking and writing. I think you are onto something.


    • Thanks. This writer and I have been corresponding for several years. She has some deep wounds from her childhood and a
      broken marriage. This is the first time I know of that I hit a vulnerable spot. I replied several times with “I” messages and no anger by email. Finally, got tired of it, and lost it. She can’t hear me and I realize that her life experience is very different from mine, and
      I can’t judge her for what seem to me to be overreactions. But don’t want to keep on with the tenor of the argument now.

      Liked by 1 person

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